Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 14


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 694

Having failed in his exorcism, Prof. Stokes asks for time to regroup. Meanwhile, David, assaulted with psychic brutality by Quentin, retreats to the Old House, refusing to return. A skeptical Roger investigates Collinwood only to suffer a similar attack, leading him to evacuate the house with his sister, vowing to return. Quentin’s ghost, now alone, holds illimitable dominion over the great estate.

DARK SHADOWS is replete with “I can’t believe they just did that on daytime television moments,” but this one may top ‘em all. These moments aren’t shocking in a topless way.  No blood. Just… as Henrik Ibsen wrote, “people just don’t do such things.”

TV shows, but especially soaps, are vicarious homes. They are often for the lonely. The characters become family. The limited stage sets become extensions of the living room, especially now in the age of the 65” norm. And yes, we expect to see these new, beloved family members punished on a regular basis. But Roger and David have something more profoundly disturbing happen to them. They both receive Quentin’s (mostly) off-camera wrath. They both earn the badge of Thousand Yard Stare. David Henesy always sells it, and Louis Edmonds really outdoes himself as Barnabas finds him after his attack. He goes from catatonic to quietly terrified to profoundly disturbed to despondent to quaking with vengeance all in the space from the drawing room to the front door. This is a man who’s dealt with Burke Devlin’s worst. We’ve seen him jittery and agitated but never numb. Now, with Roger shell-shocked, we see just how powerful Quentin is, and we wonder how long Quentin waited to render Edward’s grandson to such a state. Either way, Quentin finally emerges as the sole heir of Grandmamamama’s fortune -- the prize that brought him back to Collinwood for the last time. Back to face Jenny and fate and the bricked up wall that was once the door to his room. It was the trip that cost him Jameson, and brought out a petulance so vulgar that he would spend the next seventy years recorporating. He was compelled reach out to his doubled descendent… and love him… and punish him… and attempt to euthanize his own great-grandson while he was at it.

Just imagine what Gregory Trask’s ghost may still have in store from the very same room.

The most shocking element of the episode is its apocalyptic nature. These sets are second homes, and to see them hopelessly abandoned by the characters? It’s a revealing moment. It brings our attachment to Collinwood to the surface, a bit like the emotion felt when seeing the Enterprise destroyed or the 4077 decommissioned. We see what Quentin has and what we’ve lost as the camera lovingly glides through Sy Tomashoff’s haunted mansion to the roaring giant on the landing. Quentin is another viewer of DARK SHADOWS in a way, but a cruel one. We want to join the Collinses. To him, they are shoddy knock-offs. It’s Quentin’s home. They were just squatting there.

This episode was broadcast on a Friday. Few weekends must have felt longer to DARK SHADOWS fans.

On this day in 1969, mafia chieftain, Vito Genovese died.  

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