Monday, February 19, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 19


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 967

The ghost of Peter Bradford accuses Jeb of being responsible for the 1797 suicide of Victoria off Widow’s Hill. He says that Jeb is capable of drowning, and that’s how he intends to kill him… if vicariously. This heightens Jeb’s desire to run away with Carolyn, who agrees. Peter, however, puts Jeb into a deep sleep and resets the clock so that Jeb oversleeps, is unaware of the true time, and goes to Collinwood for Carolyn just as she goes to the cottage to find out why he’s late. Peter’s ghost tells Jeb to find her on Widow’s Hill. Instead, he finds a furious Philip, who has been bitten by Megan and released by Peter.

Okay, so apparently Jeb -- or should I say, Jebez -- existed back in 1797. The show doesn’t go into a lot of detail on this, and so I can speculate, but that’s it. If we ignore the “out of nowhere” quality this has, it communicates one of DARK SHADOWS’ chief strengths: the curse of history. From the very beginning of the show, there is a past of bitter consequences that never stops reverberating. Vicki doesn’t fully understand it. Even Carolyn is lost in it. And just when we think we know it all, a senseless, ugly thing like Victoria’s offstage suicide is reported as the bill comes due. Jeb, seemingly a new outside character, is emblematic of the fact that the past is never really over at Collinwood.

Was Dan Curtis happy to have Roger Davis back for one of his last appearances? The movie was soon to shoot, so perhaps he was hanging around for old times’ sake. Or perhaps this was fodder for a proposed flashback that never happened, taking Jeb and putting him back in time for a Vicki-return? It certainly makes 1795-97 a jonbar hinge of jonbar hinges. No matter how much is revealed, DARK SHADOWS’ history is more complex than it ever seems on the surface. It’s a story of atonement, and the price has horrible inflation.

Kudos to Philip Berneau and Marie Wallace. Both begin the process of sending off their characters with sincerity. Berneau pulls in his affectations to come across far more believably than usual, and seeing Wallace simplify, simplify, simplify is a real testament to her talent. 

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