Friday, January 4, 2019

Dark Shadows: A Temporal Map of Collinwood

Remember that episode of Star Trek where Kirk has to standby and let Edith Keeler get hit by a truck in order to save the future? That's a Tuesday conflict for Dark Shadows, a television series so non-linear that it makes Black Mirror's "Bandersnatch" experiment look like a recipe for making toast. Hell, the premise of Dark Shadows even changes depending on where you first start watching it. Those of us who started at the beginning have trouble letting go of Victoria Winters, while those who came in later in the series have this notion that Barnabas Collins is a tragic hero. And don't even get me started on the many different Quentins that populate the series.

Patrick McCray has spent so much time in Collinsport that he's registered to vote there. He's run the series so many times, and in so many different viewing orders, that he's got a God Mode perception of Dark Shadows that few can keep up with. It seems silly not to exploit lean on that knoweledge every once in a while, so I asked him for a chronology that placed the episodes in a viewing order based on the year in which they were set. Trying to visualize this time stream prompted some interesting discussion and challenges. For example, it's never explicitly stated that the "parallel time bands" of 1841 and 1970 are one and the same, yet there's evidence to support that assumption. Also, thanks to a combination of time travel storylines and the way daytime dramas constantly fudged the the flow of time, you could make an argument that the entire year of 1967 simply disappears in a puff of paradox.

Below is a "Temporal map of Collinwood," which includes a few notes about how these storylines might flow if put in their chronological order. Warning, this map is HUGE. Click on the image to get a closer look at it.

UPDATE: One of the great things about sharing your work online is the sudden appearances of thousands of proofreaders, all of them offering their services for free. A few readers quickly spotted an error I made in the chart: the ommission of a block of episodes from 1970. Below is the revised graphic with those episodes restored.

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