Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: May 17



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 240

David mistakes Maggie for Josette in the Old House. Barnabas questions him in her room before depositing him at Collinwood. Later, David sneaks back over, where he finds her playing with her music box.

The two generations of supernatural storytelling on DARK SHADOWS finally collide. Or least get confronted. Maybe just acknowledged. Respectfully nodded at? And the storytelling experience for people who have been watching the show from the beginning is starkly different from what's experienced by people who begin with the return of Barnabas. If you followed the series from the very beginning, you're used to the ghost of Josette as an actual character. This is a very literal quest that David has. If you just started the show, David may very well be a little boy with an overactive imagination and an unusual connection to this painting… but nothing more. The latter approach may actually tell a more intriguing story because of the irony; David both gets exactly what he's looking for and yet is dealing with something unbelievably literal. Little does he know that the kidnapped and brainwashed Maggie Evans is, in many ways, a more astounding event than a ghost.

Sy Tomashoff again establishes himself as the scene-stealing costar of the series, in this case with his "renovated" Old House set. The water-stained wallpaper and other decrepit details ensure we remember that, no matter how much Willie has done to clean up the house, it's still a corpse. All the more disturbing because it now has home improvement “makeup” on 60% of itself, begging the question of,"What's going to happen the other 40%?" I get the feeling that they don't care. The house has become like an exotic, carnivorous plant. Everyone except the victims see beyond the seductively colorful flowers, but we are unable to stop the credulous from going in anyway. The house remains a perfect backdrop for some of the show's most haunting imagery, specifically Maggie floating through the house enveloped in shadow and wedding attire. It's imagery that thrives in the realm of black-and-white. Although the production team will later have a blast with color, they will forever lose the textured simplicity of the chestnut haired woman in the white gown appearing to the brave boy from nowhere.

Jonathan Frid and David Henesy share some fantastic moments early in the episode, with Frid taking the opportunity to show Barnabas as alternately threatening and genuinely curious about the boy’s claims. No one else has such a significant and authentic relationship, if only in the imagination, with the love of his life. Barnabas is surrounded by one bizarre coincidence after another. He's awakened at the exact moment that his fiancé's doppelgänger is at precisely the right age. Then, his descendent has an eerily dedicated relationship with her painting, and one that seems to slip just beyond the edge of youthful imagination, into something with greater reality. Rather than leer menacingly at David, Barnabas has a more nuanced sense of curiosity, and it's that degree of complexity that elevates him over other vampires of the era.

This episode hit the airwaves May 26, 1967.

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