Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: May 8


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1015

Quentin, driven by a vision, attempts to hang himself to be with Maggie, but Angelique draws a tarot card that alerts her to this, and she stops him. Barnabas visits her in the Parallel Time room, and she reveals her true identity to Hoffman, who warns that her killer will return. Upset that Quentin is obsessed with Maggie, Angelique takes him to the brink of death with a voodoo doll.

Welcome to the thousandth episode of DARK SHADOWS; considering how much has changed, it’s amazing what looks and feels similar to the beginning. I’m not just talking about the house and the name of Collins. We have an emotionally remote, self-destructive head of the household… haunted by a dead spouse. The dead spouse isn’t really dead. In the middle of it, a raven-haired beauty from the real world, trying to sort it all out. Of course, in this case, the raven-haired beauty is Jonathan Frid, and at that point, the similarities begin to break down.

When I wrote “the real world” in the paragraph above, I struggled a bit. Do I use quotes? A better phrase? No. Compared with Parallel Time, it is the real world. I think the secret reason that Parallel Time lets us down so pointedly is that no other storyline is about DARK SHADOWS quite as resolutely, and what can live up to that? When the story begins, we see people from DARK SHADOWS looking into a square frame -- the door. They see familiar people with unfamiliar clothes, sometimes names, and relationships talking about the things people in soaps talk about, but with a uniquely daytime/gothic twist. Often, the observers stumble on the room, but ultimately, it’s just a room with an insurmountable barrier.

In other words, the room is a TV that turns off and on at random, but always in time for the characters we love to watch THEIR version of DARK SHADOWS on it. And they can’t stop. It spreads by word of mouth. “There,” Barnabas thinks, despite the misery he sees, “there, I’ll be happy.” When Barnabas enters it, the story becomes almost a Mary Sue adventure, taking the fantasy one step beyond what we could ever do. Dan’s Dream, four years ago, has birthed a dreamer wholly independent, and that dream features a dark haired man putting his head in a noose as a woman plays tarot cards nearby.

After 999 other episodes, DARK SHADOWS should be self-reflective. After the show sees how much worse it could be, and that Barnabas’ own problems are not solved by entering a might-as-well-be simulation, it seems logical that the show’s characters would be happy to go back to Kansas. In this episode, Barnabas contemplates a world without Angelique, and as seemingly grand as that would be, he’s eager to escape back to his own dimension.  Like anyone with problems knows, while entering a fantasy might give a therapeutic insight, home is still fraught with challenges. To solve them, Barnabas will have to go back to almost the beginning and forgive the unforgivable. Angelique will have to find power in reality rather than in the capacity to control and manipulate.

Her desire to control is universal. No matter the era or time band. In this episode, she finally emerges from “Alexis,” and sheds some light on those motivations. I had long wondered what drove her to obsess on Quentin, and it’s because she can’t control him. I wonder if the Barnabas of Main Time would have been as intriguing to her if he’d been openly in love in 1795? I doubt it. Issues of love and power haunt the series from the beginning, and they’ll continue to do so until Angelique and Barnabas stop them in 1840. To do that, they need the understanding that comes from watching DARK SHADOWS, which is precisely what Barnabas is doing in Parallel Time.

On this day in 1970, TV sex symbol, Frances Bavier, was furious to discover that she had misheard the title of the Beatles album that was released that day; it was not about her character in Mayberry. Nevertheless, "Let It Be" became a classic.

This episode hit the airwaves May 15, 1970.

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