Friday, October 5, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: October 5


Taped on this day in 1969: Episode 863

Who dresses like a rake, worships Satan, and is about to dig his own grave? Evan Hanley is about to find out! Humbert Allen Astredo guest stars. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Petofi bluffs his way through surviving Quentin and Evan’s assassination attempt.  As a result, Petofi forces Evan to dig his own grave. At Collinwood, Trask and Judith are reunited, and he is disturbed to find her far more autonomous than before.

863 is bookended by fantastic sequences of supernatural skullduggery and diabolical derring-do. In the middle? You know, a soap opera. What do you expect? Somehow, it’s still candy, and we can thank Jerry Lacy and Louis Edmonds for cooking it up. Edmonds, especially, is taking delight in finding newer and newer depths and dimensions to Edward’s gamesmanship. He reveals fondness for his siblings while never letting them forget where they stand. Of course, it’s easy for an Edwardian prig to grow sentimental about his family when 1/3rd of them have been possessed by a foppish, aristocratic sorcerer. But I don’t need to tell you these things.

1897 is wrapping up, and you can feel it both flagging and heading toward the inevitable semi-climax. It’s impossible to say that they have used every trick in the trunk, but the writers have been here for spring and summer of 1969, made huge choices, completely transformed Quentin into a reformed, if boring, immortal, and gone through two entirely new characters for Kathryn Leigh Scott, Thayer David, and Roger Davis. The show is on its last fumes of really top notch ideas, and the fact that 1897 ends neither with a bang nor whimper is quietly indicative of the mixed bag DARK SHADOWS will become.

As fumes, go, though, pass the bag. These are actually good for you. Humbert Allen Astredo plays a powerless drone with disturbing precision, and David Selby excavates deeper and deeper levels of malicious delight as Petofi revels in Quentin’s body and life. Any article mentioning Selby hovers on the edge of being a fan letter replete with hearts in the margins. But dammit, the man simply owns a set like few others. Ultimately, it’s his mind that makes this so. Active, observant, poetic. Maybe a PhD does make you a better actor. I’m not certain. But it was one of the two best casting choices that Dan Curtis ever made, and although I can read about the hysteria for the show at this point, I can only imagine what it was actually like. I wonder if the writers had planned on Quentin becoming Petofi before this sequence began. If they didn’t, it’s a further testament to Selby’s acting that they made a risky commitment like that.

If this episode exists to do anything, it is to squarely position Gregory Trask to, um, take up permanent residence in Quentin’s room. Trask is an interesting pest in the 1897 sequence, although he ultimately doesn’t seem to do a lot. In the most macroscopic sense, I think his ultimate purpose is to make Edward appear witty, warm, and likable by comparison. If that’s the case, it’s a job well done. And after his ancestor’s turns in 1795 and 1968, it’s satisfying to see the DSU take another chance to knock him around. In ways that have yet to be explored, the Trask dynasty is just as vital as the Collins’ to this story, and perhaps that will eventually be explored. Just bring a mason or a metaphysician. They have a habit of getting stuck behind walls, in bricked up rooms, or parallel dimensions. 

This episode was broadcast Oct. 15, 1969

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...