Monday, November 12, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: November 12


Taped on this day in 1968: Episode 627

WIll questions of life, death, Adam, and Eve send Angelique into the arms of Satan, himself? Victoria Winters: Alexandra Moltke. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Peter is seized by the police when Eve’s body is found outside his hotel room. Angelique assures Adam that it was for the best, and the blame will hang on others. Julia starts when Tom Jennings’ twin brother, Chris, arrives to investigate the happenings in Collinsport, but implies that he doesn’t stay in one place for long. Meanwhile, Angelique prepares for Nicholas’ departure by consulting the devil.

This is Alexandra Moltke’s last episode and Chris Jennings’ first. The show passes the baton very neatly and subtly in this episode. It is a great sport to split the program into two different parts, somewhat because there are dozens of “two different parts” in the series. Fewer divisions are more dramatic than what occurred during the exit of the leading actress, the woman who gave life to the character around whom your series is built. No, the character didn’t go away, but the fuse was certainly lit. At this point, chicken truly meets egg. Did the progression and evolution in tone edge out Victoria Winters, or was that tonal change allowed only by her eventual absence? I lean towards the latter. Even though the show had already ascended to the loftiest heights of daytime imagination, it seemed cosmically obligated to return to Vicki. Makes sense. She was kinda the main character, after all, intended to be a spunky problem solver and audience surrogate. While she certainly served as that very surrogate, there’s only so much that a naive orphan can do in the face of witches and vampires.  If you keep having to ground your story in the adventures and perspective of a character whose most famous and oft-repeated line insists that she doesn’t understand, your story can only do so much. She was great for observing the dual lives of Roger and Liz. But in a world where people negotiate business transactions with Diablos? She’s understandably lost. Yes, but perhaps she could be a constant victim? Always in peril? Maybe, but even in that case, a victim tests the victimizer. The more difficult someone is to manipulate and ensnare, the more we respect the captor.

This story arc is devoted to negotiating away those characters — the ones who either cannot accept the supernatural, like Joe, or the ones who simply have no business getting near it, like Victoria. It kills him, consumes her, and makes Barnabas feel right at home. The occasional ghost or psychotic groundskeeper is one thing. But now, characters with paranormal business are overrunning everyone else. Remember back when it was just Laura? Well, now it’s Barnabas, Julia, Angelique, Stokes, Nicholas, Adam, Eve, Jeff, Chris. and Diabolos. None of these characters were around when Vicki first arrived in Collinsport. With the exception of Chris, each is somehow tied to or triggered by the arrival of Barnabas. Dark Shadows began as a fish out of water story and remains such. It’s just that the biggest fish, furthest out of water, is becoming Barnabas. (When it isn’t Quentin, Jeb, or Julia.)

The first, great, post-Victoria story is the Haunting of Collinwood arc, heralding the arrival of Quentin Collins. There is only one episode to feature both Moltke and this storyline, and that’s here. Unfortunately, Moltke and Chris Jennings don’t meet. Chris Jennings belongs nowhere in her universe, nor she in his. He’s arrived to honor the upcoming passing of his cousin, Joe Haskell. Talk about torch passing! Both nice guys. Collinses-and-not-Collinses. Sort of on the sidelines. Both involved with Carolyn. But one is not equipped to deal with a supernatural world and one is a part of it. Even though they are cousins, Joe never earned the attention of Quentin’s ghost. Chris, however,  is a direct enough descendant to merit not only Quentin’s sympathetic murder attempts but also the lycanthropic legacy demanding it.

If the series began with a lost orphan from New York learning about herself as she discovers the intertwined truth of a family up north, it becomes the story of an orphan of time, the ultimate family secret, teaching future generations how to be the best versions of themselves. That begins in earnest with the Quentin storyline, and the Quentin storyline begins today.

This episode was broadcast Nov. 19, 1968.

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