Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: April 17


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 476

Lang reveals his plan to elude Angelique’s curse by transferring Barnabas’ soul into a new body with a new face. Barnabas tries to confide in Julia, and when he sees Jeff and Victoria together, decides to go forward… if Lang can give him the head of Jeff Clark. Lang eagerly agrees.

There’s a little revolution in 476 when Barnabas goes to Julia, the cause of so much misery, for advice. Ever since the introduction of Eric Lang -- a perfect time to ditch Julia -- they’ve knit them closer and closer together. The writers used her tragic flaw of jealousy in an entirely new way. What was once the inspiration to punish Barnabas is now the inspiration to win him over. And maybe she just plain likes him… and “like” can be a much more powerful agent than love. Her transformation begins out of professional envy, when Lang cures him. It continues when Barnabas, who has no reason to trust her other than instinct, seeks her counsel in this episode. Of course, he never comes out with the truth of the plan because that would end the storyline, but the gesture is what matters.

How long could the show have lasted with Barnabas and Julia going at it as horror’s Tom and Jerry? Exactly. Nor could Willie have stayed completely disloyal. Angelique and Nicholas have to be brought in advance the relationships, and the relationships have to advance to cope with Angelique and Nicholas. Here is the spark that leads to show’s most interesting evolution. Why does Barnabas trust her? You can tell by his newfound human walk, he’s a loyal man, no time to balk. This will become his secret to staying alive.

The only way that either Lang or Barnabas can get away with years of vampirism and mad science is that DARK SHADOWS must take place in a universe where DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN were never written. I’m pretty confident that there are scant references to either, if any, in the course of the show. Other than being, you know, the show itself. Otherwise, the characters would have just looked ahead to see how the books ended and worked backwards. But since no one bought Adam a parka or advised Barnabas to avoid knife-wielding cowboys, I can assume that the library was closed for Passover.

Visually, take a moment to enjoy how lush the episode is. In an episode about new life, flowering friendships, and strange hybrid plans for human development, the verdant settings are ideal. A happy accident. The extended and deep graveyard set must have dominated much of the stage, so getting the most out of it was a clever maneuver.

On this day in 1968, the Carol Burnett musical, FADE OUT, FADE IN -- a kind of spiritual continuation of the satire in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (by the same authors) closed on Broadway after 72 performances.

This episode hit the airwaves April 22, 1968.

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