Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 7


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 520

It’s morning at Collinwood, and Roger frets that Cassandra is gone. Julia reasons that if Trask’s skeleton is back in its shackles, which it is, his work is done. Liz brings down the room by insisting that she’s Naomi, and recreates the matriarch’s last hours. 

Julia is really getting the hang of this when she reasons that if Trask’s skeleton has returned, Barnabas will be free. Later, she rationalizes that it’s not a lie if they claim that Barnabas isn’t the same as he was in the 1790’s because the curse is gone. Sure. Why not?  She patiently instructs Barnabas that all he has to remember is one lie, as if she’s in the running to play Mrs. Iselin in the MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE sequel. With Angelique cooling off and Nicholas Blair warming up, it’s one of those transitional installments that exists to get you to the next episode, but it’s more than that. It’s a rich little gem of wacky behavior and pretty funny hand-wringing. You have to ignore the fact that it ends in an attempted suicide by a beloved lead character, and if you do, it’s a nutty ride. Any episode that begins with Roger so beside himself that he wears his alpine tweed with the attached belt along with a coordinating ascot is twenty-four minutes that commands our attention. This is a Liz Stoddard so crazy that, when she outs Barnabas as one of the undead, everyone just kind of nods and keeps going.

There are odd questions floating around, too. The primary one has to do with Liz’s fixation on being Naomi. The writers are still new to the business of having contemporary actors play characters from the past, so they continue to Oz it up by having Liz remain profoundly lost. And everyone’s getting used to it. Roger complains that Liz confused Joe for Lt. Forbes... as if he were deeply familiar with someone from over a century prior who was, despite the marriage to Millicent (that I suspect Joshua hushed up), just an annoying houseguest. Either that, or the Collins history is wildly thorough. Or maybe Roger just watched the 1795 sequence down at the Blue Whale during happy hour. Yes, we know that Louis played Joshua and Joan played Naomi, but the repeated connection really starts to sound strangely incestuous. 

But who is Liz Stoddard, anyway? It’s a question I murmur with disturbing regularity as my nightly sleep paralysis keeps me snugly entombed in the leaking sag of my round waterbed. What has Angelique done to her?  (Beyond give her something to do beyond telling Roger he’s being perfectly beastly.) There’s a weird Tao riddle going on here. Is it Liz who believes she’s Naomi or Naomi transported into Liz’s semi-beehive many decades into the future? I have no idea. My only suggestion is that, if you find yourself dealing with Angelique after playing your own ancestor in a flashback, as so often happens, be polite. And stay away from the desk in the drawing room. Antique boxes of Powdered Poison are standard issue next to the stamps and White Out.

Amidst the dark cloud that is party-pooping Naomi is a pooped party worth remembering. Barnabas goes to sleep with both Trask and Angelique running around and awakens in a world free of them. Soaps rarely take the time to celebrate these victories, and this episode does. So much so that Barnabas seems disoriented. It’s a good thing that a possessed Liz Stoddard is around to make him relive one of the great tragedies of his life and keep his boots six feet under the ground. 

Hold on. I think Nicholas Blair is about to knock. Bah, Humbert! But that’s tomorrow.

This episode hit the airwaves June 24, 1968.

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