Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 7


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 427

As the trial begins, Victoria learns that her allies in the Collins family will be of no help. When it seems as if Vicki was in two places at once, Trask’s victory seems assured. Upon investigation, Peter suspects that Ben knows more than he is saying.

Jerry Lacy further establishes himself as an instant star on the show, giving us a far more strategic Trask than we’ve seen of the ranting loon thus far. But there is an even more dramatic element to 427. Lighting. The star of 427 is lighting. The show had used gobos off and on from the beginning to project, yes, dark shadows on the actors. In the courtroom, they cast a rounded window’s mullions over the witness stand, casting Victoria in a perfect spider’s web. Unsubtle? Absolutely. But if you’re looking for subtle, this ain’t the show for you.

TV’s first (fictional) witch trial began on this day, and Sam Hall & crew are to be championed for rationalizing how that could possibly happen in 1795. The sluggish pace of the soap opera is often a whipping boy here at the Daybook, but this is an object lesson in the medium’s greatest strength. Thanks to the gift of time, storylines can be lacquered up, and the ridiculous becomes the norm. Not only does this allow them to credibly insinuate the incredible plot elements into a comparably normal world, it makes the show resemble real life, where exactly the same thing happens. Except not with witches and vampires.

Okay, not with vampires.

The second payoff is for longtime viewers. As the show progresses, so does the pace -- Parallel Time notwithstanding. By the time late 1968 rolls around, we accept the rules of Collinwood, and the storytelling picks up to match our familiarity with the bizarre… which has become the norm. 1840 may seem rambunctious for some, but for others who prize the chance to watch every day, it is laudibly rich with daily turnabouts and surprises. In some ways, that storyline takes even more time, although what has preceded it is so baroque that it works in even more. In 1795, it takes them only three months to get to the climactic witch trial; in 1840, they won’t reach it until the fourth.

On this day in 1968, Arthur Miller’s Tony-nominated play, THE PRICE, opened on Broadway. Like all plays by Miller, it was a searing indictment of, you know, prices. Miller loved him some searing indictments. 

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