Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 8


Taped on this date in 1971: Episode 1213

Gabriel goes on the run when his lottery number is up. Morgan and Julia eventually catch up with him in a drunken stupor, where he reveals that he was just enjoying his one day of grace before the inevitable night in the room. They return to Collinwood and he proceeds to his probable doom. Meanwhile, Bramwell begins to consider a romance with Daphne.

Curse you, Jonathan Frid. How dare you have perfectly sound, sober reasons to largely retire from acting to a dignified private life? With talent like this, he had a Cosmic Obligation to perform for us well beyond the point of misery. Deny us no riches, you Kooky Canuck!

Okay, I’m overreacting. But Frid’s time as Bramwell shows such dimension and range -- and is a preview for what we would have been missing. In this episode, he never stirs from beneath the Collinsport Afghan, yet he commands the set. Bramwell seethes with a contemptuous confidence, and Frid wisely drops his mid-Atlantic accent to a more subtly brutal American sound to match it. Vowels narrow. R’s take their places at the ends of words. Like a wacky, cartoon record producer might say, it’s a younger sound. It accompanies the longer hair, casual physicality, and openly leering bedroom eyes to make him as different from Barnabas as possible. I wondered if there were an additional purpose, other than breaking the monotony that Barnabas had become for him. He’s certainly showing youth, sex appeal, versatility, and all of the other qualities needed for a leading man in the early 70’s. And there was something familiar about it.  Then it hit me.
He’s doing Selby! He’s doing his best to do a Selby, but make it edgier and cockier, if that’s possible. I think he may have succeeded.

Many of the mainstays seem to be getting their post-DARK SHADOWS sizzle reels together with some fine performance choices. Christopher Pennock gives Gabriel a probably send off that’s sad, dignified, credibly schnockered and believably human. Pennock always scores with monologues, and his performance here is a rebuke to all of the casting agents who didn’t find worthy roles for him as one of the biggest stars of the Seventies.

On this day in 1971 it was the birthday of the Nasdaq Composite stock index. 

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