Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: April 19


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 215

Maggie congratulates Burke on his handling of Willie Loomis when Joe arrives and explains in shock that his uncle’s calf has been drained of blood. Willie comes in, despite Burke’s prior warning, and collapses at the bar. Jason and Burke discuss Willie’s condition, and Jason confronts his former lackey.

With his nervously indefatigable sense of tally-ho in the later portions of the show, it’s easy to forget the truly portentous, necrotic essence that Barnabas brought to the show. There is an ugly and unforgiving feeling to what’s happening to Collinsport that goes beyond Lucy or Mina simply becoming a little pale. Dead cattle and a battered, terrified street kid are just a prelude. It seems so antithetical to the nostalgic charm that he uses with Vicki and the family. He’s like a deadly, carnivorous insect that has chosen to camouflage itself as innocently as possible. I’d argue for this being a Jekyll and Hyde riff, but there’s no remorse. Barnabas has almost two centuries to think about what he wants and deserves and has been denied. When it comes to wanting to see the world burn, the Joker barely has a smouldering match compared to Barnabas.

This is the first real episode to go beyond a romantically rhapsodizing, anti heroic man of mystery and show the dead rot under the Inverness cloak. Ironic that he’s not even there for the episode. We can thank the honest and shaken turns by the reliably truthful Joel Crothers and John Karlen for making Barnabas truly scary. Awed reactions to an offstage force engage the imaginations of the viewers, and together they can create a character that few actors can top. Jonathan Frid is one of them, and that’s a high compliment. (The nauseated confusion shown by Joe will take a lot to justify.)

The other contributor is Mitch Ryan. It’s one thing for John Karlen to show Willie’s vulnerability, taking a 180 turn from who we first met. It’s something else for the strongest character on the show to come to a dead halt over it. Willie has a fear so authentically-yet-subtly conveyed that Burke goes from wanting to slug fellow ex-con, Jason McGuire, to avuncularly collaborating with him on Willie’s condition. Barnabas’ effect is so profound that it changes loyalties and unites former enemies in a matter of seconds. Our fears have been justified; it will be impossible to know what Barnabas is capable of in the future, but there is one thing he cannot be: underestimated.

On this day in 1967, film producers finally got back to Ian Fleming with CASINO ROYALE. All kidding aside, it’s a wild mess of a mish mash and, if you turn off expectations, pure fun.

This episode hit the airwaves April 24, 1967.

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