Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dark Shadows, The Road to Bloodline: Tainted Love


“I became a witch, I consumed a demon, but I still can’t make you love me!”

It’s a Year in the Life in Collinsport in the supremely satisfying Tainted Love, the fifth installment in my Road to Bloodline nonsense. My obsession with branding aside, this audio truly is a thing of beauty. Centered around a hellish love triangle that develops between David Collins (a returning Alec Newman), Amy Jennings (Stephanie Ellyne), and Hallie Stokes (Kathleen Cody), who has newly returned to Collinsport, this Daniel Collard written tale delivers old school Dark Shadows operatics, emotion, and mysticism. Honestly, this one has arguably been the most “pure” Dark Shadows experience of this whole section of audios, leaning into the more soapy elements of the property with aplomb which provides a kneer edge to the trademark weirdness the show always made great use of. But enough of my yakkin’, let’s get into it.

Right off the bat, Collard’s script along with David Darlington’s masterful sound design lets on early that this is going to be an episodic experience. Picking up mere days after the event’s of Bloodlust (another fantastic narrative choice that I will get into a bit later), Collard, Darlington, and the episode’s director Joseph Lidster open on David and Amy sharing a rare quiet moment in the great house of Collinwood. But, this being Dark Shadows, their calm is interrupted by a screaming man outside on the grounds, raving about his lost wife and trying to cross into the house. Enter the returning Hallie Stokes, who quickly diagnosis the man as “possessed” and then promptly...distingegrates him, saying it was the only way to expel the demon she was chasing.

From there we are treated to a tightly constructed relationship drama, set against the backdrop of the major holidays. Each one broken into well produced little vignettes, with their own opening Victoria Winters-esque narration from each of our three leads, supported by the theme tune in the background. I really love this choice for two reasons. One, it really allows the journey these characters take throughout Tainted Love to shine and breathe as the action isn’t confined to a few days. Had it been, I feel I wouldn’t have been nearly as invested in David and Amy’s growing relationship, even with Newman and Ellyne’s wonderful chemistry. The same goes for Hallie’s descent into madness, which is also played beautifully by Cody. Both plots are pretty well entwined with one another, but stretching it out over a whole calendar year allowed it to feel more natural, thus making it that much more engaging. 

The second reason I love this choice so much is that we finally get, or at least I FINALLY get, as this has been something I’ve been harping on for a while now, some actual, real time fallout and growth for the characters post-Bloodlust. We start mere days after the events, and instead of having more flashbacks to other stories or another side story, we get an actual movement and progression for two major players, moving us through a tremendous set up for the incoming Bloodline. I know that you are probably tired of reading about my feverish love affair with serialization but I really appreciated the forward momentum Tainted Love provided for David and Amy, supported by some choice cameos from some of my other faves from Bloodlust that I don’t really want to spoil here, but trust me, they are a lot of fun.

And I think even if you aren’t a big continuity hound like I am, you’ll get a lot out of Tainted Love. It has the novelty of starring some returning favorites, along with a fun central story, and plenty of amorous, touchy-feely entanglements to satisfy the more relationship minded Dark Shadows fans. I definitely think this is essential listening for anyone curious about the genesis of David and Amy’s relationship so that’s just one selling point on top of a whole pile of other unrelated selling points. Plus, ya know, Alec Newman.

NEXT TIME! The penultimate Road to Bloodline, ...And Red All OverMitchell Ryan, you guys! Until then, be seeing you.

Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at justin@betweenthepanels.com Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...