Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 24


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 810

Quentin stops Charity from calling the police by proving that her father murdered her mother. She bargains for the whereabouts of Tim Shaw. As Magda tries to locate him, they learn that Quentin’s infant daughter is dying. After fighting Aristede for an ineffectual, magic medallion, Quentin and Magda summon the ghost of Julianka for help. Instead, the ghost of Jenny appears.

So much of the 1897 storyline feels like primetime show that’s wandered onto daytime tv. After all, as any bored kid in the 70’s with chicken pox will tell you, soaps are not bastions of action and adventure. In 810, after slogging through lengthy scenes of Charity Trask panicking over Quentin, fuming over her father, and pining for Tim Shaw, we are treated to one of DARK SHADOWS’ rare but hilarious fistfights. These are usually left to David Selby (or Christopher Pennock), and in this one, he dukes it out with Aristede. The deck is stacked in Quentin’s favor from the beginning. He’s fighting a man usually seen either napping, primping, or admiring his jewelry (all of which -- including napping -- Michael Stroka does with panache). Lucky for Artistede, he battles with the aid of the “Dancing Lady,” an unimposingly small piece of plywood cut into the shape of a wavy knife. Of course, he has no idea how to use it. He holds it blade-out rather than gripping the handle and keeping the blade pointing backwards... for slashing on the upswing, stabbing on the downswing, and it’s bad news for anyone who tries to seize the wrist or forearm. But I digress. Or do I? Aristede’s incompetence is, as always, his undoing. Quentin makes fast work out of him to steal his magic medallion and save the life of his daughter, ailing from the curse of a dead gypsy.

Just read that last sentence over and over again. This is the 800th episode of the show. 799 episodes earlier, we saw the first episode, and I can guarantee that no one involved imagined anything contained in this one. In the prior episode, a severely scarred, bleeding, werewolf-ravaged girl was the subject of the lingering camera. In this, blasphemous prayers to the ghost of a gypsy are the only hope for a dying baby. After that three-year descent into weirdness, Standards and Practices must either look older than the mutated Barnabas or they simply surrendered and camped out at happy hour until 1971. And in a year? The camera will be drinking in the sight of a dead Carolyn, murdered by a ghost, on screen, and morbidly displayed in a haunted playroom in a fetishistic tableau. You know, for the kids.

Not that the beginning of the show lacked bar room brawls and scrappin’, but I don’t need to list the ways in which this is different. The show continues to find ways to top itself, and the circus tent seems to have no roof. Moments later, Quentin’s murder victim/spouse will violently rock the casket-shaped cradle of her own dying daughter. To save her, of course. A demonic doomsday cult cannot be far behind.

Nor should it be. The time slot may be daytime, but the show is anything but.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 1, 1969.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.