Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 5


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 252

As Carolyn begins her nightly attempt to berate Liz about the impending nuptials, Liz ends the subject by claiming to love Jason. Seeking revenge, Carolyn drunkenly takes up with a biker gang led by a vaguely affected biker named Buzz. As they party at Collinwood, Liz objects, and Carolyn threatens to deepen her relationship with the gang lord.

DARK SHADOWS returns to its prime storyline of Jason McGuire and Liz Stoddard, and thanks to the sharp performance of Nancy Barrett, it doesn’t feel like a letdown after the explosively wacky time we’ve spent at the Old House. Quite a feat on top of vampirism, kidnapping, and ghosts. It just goes to show what you can accomplish with passive aggression and an alto-voiced biker in The Wig that Would Be Szandor’s. Just as Barnabas is quick to start eying Vicki when things with Maggie swipe left, a new love is just the “I’ll show you” that Carolyn is looking for. We are, too.

Buzz. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz. You are an inexplicable gem worth explicating.

With Barnabas and the kidnapping/courtship, storytelling on DARK SHADOWS leveled up to a point from which it could never return. He feels like a total alien is the DSU and, strangely, like someone we might have met in the early, Bill Malloy days. (Just imagine the clash of those two!) Michael Hadge somehow manages to merge Russ Tamblyn with Truman Capote, and over four episodes, creates one of the show’s most memorable slices of huggably insolent, beer-swilling class envy. If Buzz had been around during the Leviathan sequence, Bruno would have surrendered and gone to work for Werner Erhard. Which is a fate I wish on no one.

As appalling (to the family) as Buzz is and will become, I can’t help but sense that history is repeating itself. If Paul Stoddard was the kind of guy to have Jason McGuire as a best friend, I think it’s safe to see him as the Buzz Hackett of the 1930’s. Just imagine what Jamison must have made of THAT! Perhaps we underestimate the old coot. His favorite uncle was sort of the Buzz Hackett of the 1890’s. Fortuna’s Wheel may have STP stickers all over it, after all.

What if Buzz had stayed around? A love triangle with Liz and Julia would have been inevitable, but beyond that, he and Willie would have either become inseparable or great friends. I can see Roger paying the scamp a small fortune to keep Willie (and Jeb and Bruno and Harry) in check as his own preferred weapon. No? Well, I can dream it, anyway. He’s a much needed, surreal vacation from the nihilistic implosion of everyone’s emotional lives at the Old House, and a perfect ambassador to ease us back into the grownup world at Collinwood.

This episode hit the airwaves June 13, 1967.

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