Monday, February 5, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 5


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 425

The spirit of Angelique hectors Barnabas as he tries to oversee the completion of Josette’s coffin for her impending vampire transformation. She seems to do the same to Josette and Natalie as the Countess cites every event that’s happening -- lost rings and breaking glass -- as part of the prophecy of Josette’s doom. Josette is eventually led to Widow’s Hill where Angelique shows her a vision of how she will appear as a vampire. Barnabas arrives; Josette leaps to her death upon seeing him. 

The greatest tragedy of Barnabas’ life, and it could have been avoided if Angelique had just been more efficient. What does she want? Barnabas. Who’s in the way? Barnabas. Yeah, okay, but why? Josette. Maybe Angelique wasn’t that bright after all. In this episode, it’s just so simple. Show her she’s a vampire, and she jumps off a hill. But, like a third wave nightmare of a female cliche (created by men, we’d all be quickly reminded), she’s far more interested in punishing people because it’s fun. That either makes Angelique the dopiest person on the show or the most relatable.

You didn’t hear that.

I can only imagine that Angelique’s takeaway was, “That was it? Really? That’s all it took?”

In all seriousness, think of a linear map that splits off in dozens of directions. This is a piece about Josette’s death, so let’s talk about Parallel Time. That’s the actual timeline on DARK SHADOWS. The present is a constantly shifting sock hop of past circumstances informed by meddling time travelers profoundly altering the timeline. If Collinwood has consciousness, it must be sweating like Zero Mostel with a Tae Bo tape as it tries to rationalize events to keep the present timeline comprehensible. Think about this episode. Natalie keeps citing prophecies in the family history… lost rings, the sound of breaking glass. It makes you wonder who wrote it. Well, Josette dies, so the only surviving witness is Natalie, who must have written it in the future. But then Barnabas comes back in time to save Vicki in the 1796 flashback, and her death results. Unless she prolifically journaled, she wouldn’t have had the time to jot that down in the week or two in between Josette’s death and when she and Nathan attack Barnabas. By Barnabas coming back in that flashback, I’d wager that chapter of the history was never written. This mucking with the timeline because it could never go back with Vicki to be read.

And don’t even get me started with what any year with “18” in its name does to the 20th century.

But it’s not a mess… thanks, I think, to Parallel Time and the room through which it’s accessed. I have two theories. One is that the room evolved within Collinwood as a kind of purge valve for temporal interference. It may be where all of the strange, sideways implications of heroic interference somehow, using the logic of a dream, get filtered out. Or, and this is stranger, what if it were the first thing built at Collinwood? A Collins ancestor to Joshua designed an interdimensional hub -- or ordered one from a catalog -- and then built a house around it. The parallel universes are like cars on a merry go round, with more appearing each time someone makes a new choice. Perhaps the “prime” universe doesn’t even exist. Or it’s closer to the hub than the others, which is why there is such stability in that band of time.

As for other observations about this episode? We think of the warmth between Barnabas and Ben, but in actuality, Barnabas treats him with frequent brutality. In this episode, Barnabas “bangs on the home appliance,” which is how I think he sees it, to get Ben to finish Josette’s coffin, and does it to the tune of a death threat. That’s life in the big city, I suppose. Kathryn Leigh Scott delivers a marvelously determined Josette, seeking Barnabas with iconoclastic bravery. Seeing Scott’s mixture of optimistic loyalty and romantic grit is a reminder of why this character became so iconic. In this sense, jumping off Widow’s Hill is more a demonstration of self-ownership than fright.

Kathryn Leigh Scott gets into character.
Kathryn L Scott gets into character for episode 425 of Dark Shadows, taped Feb. 5, 1968. Because her turn as a vampire was expected to be brief, make-up artists opted to use press-on-nails instead of more expensive “stage fangs” for the actress. (Also: Thayer David’s response in the background is priceless.)
Posted by The Collinsport Historical Society on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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