Saturday, August 17, 2019

Podcast: Dana Gould's Night Rally

Mistakes were made.

The first podcast turned out better than I could have ever imagined, a two-hour sprawling epic with more contributors than I could count. The traffic on the episode was great, as well ... but trying to publish an omnibus podcast on a monthly basis proved to be beyond my abilities. I've got some good stuff already in the can for episode two, but trying to get everybody to manage their schedules at my whim is unrealistic. From now on I'll be releasing "single serving" episodes as they become available, collecting them into an anthology podcast at a later date.

Which means I have to break down the previous podcast into single serving installments ... beginning today. Each day throughout the week a complete segment from our first episode - "It Runs in the Family" - will be shared as an individual MP3 file. Hopefully this might also attract a few of you who blanched at the thought of a two-hour podcast.

First up: Night Rally by Dana Gould! Dana and Bobcat Goldthwait were injured Thursday in a car wreck in Atlanta, suggesting they might need to follow some sort of Air Force One protocol for future live appearances. Get well soon, guys.
You can download Night Rally by clicking HERE, or stream it below. The Dark Shadows theme is performed here by Valentine Wolfe.

Tomorrow: Evolving in the Shadows with Ella Minnope!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Get Dark Shadows stuff CHEAP

The Big Finish warehouse is bulging with a plethora of amazing releases from the last 20 years – so grab some CD bargains while stocks last. As you'd expect from Big Finish, there's a LOT of Doctor Who audios for sale, but there are quite a few Dark Shadows titles also part of this weekend's deal. (I haven't stopped to count them, but it looks like almost the whole Dark Shadows line is on sale.)

Head to and use access code AUGUST to get the warehouse clearance prices. Act fast! Once these CD releases are gone, they’re gone and will only be available on download thereafter. Unless otherwise stated, all CD purchases unlock a download exclusive via the Big Finish website or the Big Finish app.

These offers are only available until 23:59 UK time Aug. 19, so don’t delay.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A new Dark Shadows TV series is in the works

The cat is out of the bag: A new Dark Shadows television series is being discussed!

There have been rumors about the project circulating for months, but now I have a source which I can attribute, which is (checks notes) Forbes. The magazine has a feature about Bradley Gallo, Chief Creative Officer/Partner for Amasia Entertainment. Among the projects he's developing is a "re-boot" of Dark Shadows with Warner Bros. Over at Stage 32, Gallo is listed as an executive producer on the series.

If things proceed, where is Dark Shadows going to land? I don't know ... but I hear the major streaming services are being targeted. That's if it happens at all. In the words of George Burns, show business is a hideous bitch goddess ... a new Dark Shadows might go to pilot and die. An entire season might get shot and shelved. The final product might even, dare I say it ... suck? But it's exciting to think about. Consider my mind open and my body ready.

I'm already dreading the inevitable Facebook arguments this is going to provoke. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 12


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1083

Sebastian Shaw disturbs Hallie with news from the beyond, but will he open his third eye in time to see that Collinsport’s most venerable hunk is coming his way? Professor Stokes: Thayer David. (Repeat; 30 min.)

David and Hallie find a dollhouse of Rose Cottage in the playroom and are disturbed by the presence of dolls that resemble themselves. Driven my Hallie’s evasions, Professor Stokes visits Sebastian. Although he implies that Sebastian is a fraud, Sebastian demonstrates his powers through a heartfelt vision that ends in the sight of the children sleeping. After Stokes leaves, Sebastian confides in Roxanne that the children were actually dead. At Collinwood, David and Hallie try to break Gerard’s spell by burning the dolls. When they return to the playroom, the dolls have reappeared, unharmed.

The irony of Dark Shadows’ broadcast history is that, by the time they were making the episodes that would have really given kids nightmares, the kids for whom the show was vaguely aimed were too old to be scared. Or given nightmares by soap operas. Or maybe still watching But 1083 is a fine candidate for nightmare inducement, and a perfectly good reason to walk a little slower on the way home from school. Lately, Jonathan Frid and Grayson Hall are not reliably waiting to greet them

It’s a cursed storyline. Cursed by the fact that we already know they’re doomed. Yes, the whole point is averting it, but at no point do our heroes catch a glimmer of hope. In this episode, we have only the third stringers to rely upon. And I hate to call Professor Stokes this, but the role of skeptic is a strange one for him, and it’s a little odd to try and get behind him not believing in something. Especially because he gets it wrong. And that’s what they do in the Ragnarok sequence. They get it wrong at every crucial point when getting it right would thwart Gerard. He is a villain whose plan only works because of entropy. An all-star can only get it right so many times. Stokes not only has trouble detecting that Sebastain Shaw is the real deal, but he even fails to detect the only lie told by him: that the children were in no real danger. In fact, he saw them dead. This isn’t a testament to Stokes’ waning powers; it’s a tribute to the insurmountable odds he faces in near ignorance.

Killing kids is one of horror’s few taboos, reserved only when the medium has no interest in charming the audience. (And to witness what happens when you effectively break that taboo, revisit Pet Sematary.) Sure, kids have died/almost died before on the show, but never just… because. Heroes constantly outmatched? One of the only things that makes much horror watchable is the knowledge that the forces of good may somehow escape. Or, as with the 1982 The Thing, at least take “it” with them on the way down. The last victory Gerard wants is a moral one, and it’s clear that none will happen on his watch.

1083 typifies the storyline in that David and Hallie are on the front lines of both the attack and the defense. Fewer things are more unsettling than trying to solve a problem you may be unwittingly creating, and episodes like these are strange precursors to the feeling that Candyman gave audiences. There, too, the heroine is a lightning rod for manipulation by the villain. Dollhouses, as I’ve noted before, are testaments to our desire to control. As David and Hallie try to sidestep its rules by burning the dolls, Gerard must again deliver a memo in inevitability by making them reappear.

Why a dollhouse? Coming up on a future episode, David and Hallie will see themselves replacing the figurines within. It’s what I consider to be the single most disturbing image on the show. Gerard’s message is a clear one; David and Hallie are already dolls in a dollhouse, themselves: Collinwood. Gerard is its clear master, and maybe he has been for a very, very long time.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 19, 1970.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 8


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 562

Joe finally learns the truth behind Collinsport’s nocturnal activities. But if he’s a puppet, who is the hand? Angelique or Nicholas? Joe Haskell: Joel Crothers. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Joe stumbles upon Willie, who is digging up a grave. Nicholas and Angelique divert Joe from informing the authorities, and Joe later goes to a nervous Barnabas to suggest that the police will not be involved. Joe continues to succumb to Angelique’s bite, despite resisting.

Dark Shadows started out as one thing. And that one thing cannot escape what the show is becoming. The saddest example of that is the transformation of Joe Haskell.  Sad because he is a wasted, maddened casualty, played with a wonderful sense of dawning horror by Joel Crothers. He and his character were once the show’s rays of light. (Excluding an understandable temper and one, allowable, drunken night of soaking up beer and piddling class envy on the Collinsport Afgan.) Now, he’s Angelique’s blood doll, and a pitiful, disheveled one, at that. His captivation by Angelique can be written off to the supernatural, but that feels superficial. Angelique is, In every way, the anti-Maggie. Does this make her the wrong woman or the wrong woman in the right ways? Joe’s desperate attraction feels tragically right. Even her comparative indifference to him is both repulsive and alluring. 

Dark Shadows’ early world of blackmail and revenge was built for Joe Haskell, and Joe was built to be the paragon withstanding it. He reeks of honest work, integrity, and common sense. When Willie needs a warning or Sam needs a sober ear, Joe’s the guy. Vampires and demons, not so much. Dark Shadows was careful to segregate guys like Joe and Burke from the incipient sideshow. They were just not built for moments like this, and all of Collinsport Revealed to be an elaborate shell to hide what was really brewing under the surface. Jeffrey Beaumont is designed to successfully segue back and forth between the genres. His story is, by classical definitions, a comedy. Joe’s is a tragedy. When Jeffrey says that, “It’s a strange world,” he does so with bemused wonder. But when Joe Haskell says it, there is nothing more nor less than horror -- at the world and his own combination of eager desire and spoonfed ignorance. He is the doomed hero of Lovecraft, not Lynch. But David Lynch is an optimist compared to the minds behind Dark Shadows, and the fall of Joe Haskell is a prime example.

In fact, he is so alien to the newly revealed world of the supernatural in Dark Shadows that Angelique seems subtly indifferent towards him. He’s a meal to her more than a man, and she takes the job because she’s a pro. Not because she wants to. He’s a worthy victim in only the biological sense. When they share the screen, it feels like two vastly different shows have been Frankensteined together, but that adds to the dark fascination of it. Because it’s clear which is going to win, we also see which vision of the universe is stronger. Suddenly, the pedestrian world of everyday, mortal storytelling is revealed to be on the thinnest of stilts. Van Helsing doesn’t stand a chance, and we knew it all along. The unseemly and fascinating part of this story is how it brazenly tells that truth about mortal life after setting it up as unimpeachable for the past two years. Joe has been played all along, and the audience -- part of Joe’s world all along -- has been, as well.

When Barnabas returns from 1795, he immediately starts draining Vicki of blood. It’s a metaphor for the show reinventing itself by feeding off its own beginnings until they cease to be relevant. Joe’s victimization by Angelique is simply equal opportunity with a thousand-yard stare. And not without regrets. In 562, both Joe and Angelique seem equally horrified and enthralled at the prospect of meeting each other. Joe seems to have more of the opportunity to resist than any victim we’ve seen. Consequently, his eventual capitulation to bites and blackmail is all the more poignant.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 20, 1968.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Collinsport Historical Society writer needs your help

Frank Jay Gruber has been contributing to The Collinsport Historical Society almost from the beginning, and is a founding member of what I jokingly call the "board of directors."

His first contribution was for our Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon way back in 2012, and he's since written about such movies as House of Dark ShadowsDracula Has Risen from the Grave and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Frank is also a great guy, and a fan's fan. When I attended my first Dark Shadows Festival in 2016, he offered to pick me up at the airport in Newark, N.J. and shuttle me to Tarrytown, N.Y. That, alone, should tell you something about his character. Whenever anyone asks me for a favor, I remember how far out of his way Frank went for me that weekend and try to live up to those standards. (If you've ever been to the Newark airport, you know he set the bar pretty high, ha ha.)

On July 31, Frank began chemotherapy following a diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer, which had already spread to his liver by the time it was detected. I don't have any profound insight into his situation. The word "unfair" keeps pushing my other thoughts to the margins. I'm struggling to complete this paragraph, but in the end it doesn't really matter what I do or say ... Frank doesn't need my platitudes right now. But he's a good guy and I hope he pulls through this.

On July 19, Frank's friend Chris Vignola launched a fundraiser to help cover his medical expenses. You can find it on Facebook at and the goal is $20,000. Here's a snippet from the page's summary:
"Frank and his family, wife of 30 years Kathy, his two daughters Cristina and Melissa have had a series of bad luck. In 1989 Frank suffered a brain stem injury and has been permanently disabled in addition to 8 herniated discs from a car accident. I have asked for things thru the years for my special kids and vets but this one is even more personal to me. Please anything you can give. Give a little each time you can through out this fundraiser , it doesnt need to be a giant amount in one shot. Again he is one of our own please step up the plate for this avid Yankees fan and lets hit it out of the park for him!"
$20,000 for one family is a major expense, but The Collinsport Historical Society's thousands of readers should be able to make a sizable dent in that goal. Consider it the bill coming due for all the free content we've provided here over the years.

You can find the Facebook fundraiser online HERE. Please consider donating.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Sy Tomashoff 1922-2019


Along with Bob Cobert, there is one man who appeared in every episode of Dark Shadows, and did so while balancing the impossible. He was artful and practical at the same time, just as he was menacing and nostalgic at the same time.  He was past and present at the same time. Grand and forbidding, and warmly domestic. Ancient and new. City and country. Rich and poor. Innovative and innocuous. Secular and supernatural. And most of all, inevitably iconic.

Scenic designer Sy Tomashoff was not only responsible for the look of the continuing world of discovery and time travel on the program, but also for its sense of time, itself. Chronologically, yes, but also as the prison first Presented by Collinwood for the viewers. He never had the luxury of not thinking ahead. Would the show be going to color? Would the show be going to unknown storylines? Would the show eventually feature something actually scary? He was responsible for the look of the program in the present, and was constantly preparing for what the show might be in the future, an impossible feat.

Oh yes, and he did all of this in a space with less versatility than a bowling alley. Making room for actors, technicians, and three, cable dragging, giant television cameras. In fact, on Dark Shadows, he helped envision, plan for, and execute one of the first three camera programs in the daytime television industry.

In assembling a program, no one really knows that he is creating icons. They have too many jobs to do. The best evidence for his genius may be seen in the other versions of Dark Shadows, Most of which already provided mansions and mortar from previously established buildings. Those versions prove an unmistakable point. They either had real locations, such as Lyndhurst and Greystone, or grand designs that rose from a backlot to be as grandiose as possible. Indeed, they were authentic and fanciful, but the pre-existing structures and backlot behemoths lacked something essential. Collinwood must be a source of fear and a symbol of wealth while also being a source of loyalty and warmth and family and a thing worth defending. Creating that visual world was one of television’s great accomplishments. The subsequent versions and visions of Dark Shadows were grand design. But Tomashoff did that while creating a home.

Sy Tomashoff arguably had more influence on the program than anyone short of the show’s musical composer. He continued to work for decades, exploring the possibilities for visual storytelling in the strangely rigorous world of daytime television. He is a legend to other designers in the industry. And his genius lives after him, defining Dark Shadows in every frame.

So, who wants to be on a Dark Shadows trading card?

UPDATE: Thanks for everyone who participated today in #DarkestSelfie on Twitter. It probably came as a surprise to a lot of people ... I expect to be getting selfies for the rest of the day, but can't promise I'll be able to "card" them. Anyhoo, here's a collage of today's event. If anyone wants to do this again, I've got templates for the green trading card ready to go.

... original post follows ...

Fangoria did something amazing online yesterday. As part of the magazine's 40th anniversary, some poor graphic designer spent several hours incorporating selfies submitted by readers into previous Fango covers. IT WAS GLORIOUS. You can see a small gallery of the images HERE. (If you've ever been curious about what I look like, you can see what they did to me HERE.)

It was a fantastic celebration of the community that has accumulated around the magazine over the years, and an idea that seems worth ripping off. So, beginning at 11 a.m. EST today, tag me on Twitter @CousinBarnabas, use the hashtag #DarkestSelfie and send me your most gothic photo ... and I'll turn it into a Dark Shadows trading card! (I'll be shutting down at noon, so you've got one hour to get me your photos.)

The format for this go-round will be the original pink-bordered trading cards. If this experiment is a success we'll try this again with the green Dark Shadows cards and maybe even ... well, I've got some ideas.

This is a spur-of-the-moment announcement so anything can happen. It might be a dud. Or I might be getting fitted for a carpal tunnel glove later today.

- Wallace

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 5


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 559

Will Nicholas solve his romantic problems with Maggie by insisting that Angelique have Joe for dinner? Nicholas: Humbert Allen Astredo. (Repeat; 30 min.)

With the aid of a magic mirror and the trio of powers of hypnosis, ventriloquism, and invisibility, Nicholas fools Victoria into thinking she’s been at the Old House instead of his prisoner. When she wanders in to see Jeff, he informs her that she’s been missing for days. Meanwhile, Nicholas again charms Maggie, but when Joe appears, it’s clear that there are rocks on the green for the devil’s Don Juan. Returning to the house by the sea, he suggests to Angelique that her next victim will be Joe Haskell.

Jeez, even a smooth-talking, well-dressed, hardworking, handsome professional guy from Hell doesn’t stand a chance against the eternal menace of The Old Boyfriend. It’s a credit to the casting and authorship of Dark Shadows that you side with the demon on the whole thing. It’s a longstanding tradition now that the show’s ostensible villains are the romantic heroes, but in this case, there’s no ostensible about it. He IS the villain. Nonetheless, he’s a villain experiencing his first love, and who can’t get behind that? Maggie brings out the best in him. Humbert Allen Astredo becomes a California-bronzed Richard Benjamin onscreen with Kathryn Leigh Scott, and together, they create television’s most subversive almost-couple.

There’s nothing new to seeing love depicted as a transformative force. That’s its job in art. It transforms the static, the pessimistic, the hopeless, and the innocent. Dark Shadows is bored with that, and reliably examines what love can do for evil. Angelique is the series’ longest-running experiment in that. Her story ends in the transformation that love can create. Just because she believes she begins the story as a woman in love, doesn’t mean that she is. Obsessed, maybe. Jealous, certainly. If she begins the series in love with anything, it’s with the idea of being someone else -- primarily a Collins, wealthy and waspy. She calls that love, and it may be, but its not romance. She just happens to find that along the way, and it’s a happy irony that it’s with the subject of her obsession. Even luckier? Having gotten the pleasure of burning her alive out of his system, he’s eventually open to exploring a future with the woman who condemned him to a godless, living death of savagery and solitude. As one should expect.

For Adam, love motivates him to improve himself. It also motivates him to become a serial kidnapper, but at least that gets him out of the house. Love transforms Julia Hoffman. Quentin, arguably. Certainly, Jeb. But with Nicholas, there is a genuine danger to the depiction and storyline. Not just that he’s doing something dangerous -- it’s that the writers are.

Depending on where you’re coming from. Love doesn’t really transform Nicholas so much as expand his range of delights. Because of the casting of Astredo, it’s hard not to root for him. Especially compared with the charming-but-bland quarterback-type presented by Joe Haskell, the program creates an immediate David-and-Goliath scenario where it’s very easy to root for the diabolical Blair. Joe’s spun his wheels for years… at least Nicholas wants to make a commitment. And it’s not because Maggie’s soul is the secret to some superweapon or something. No, he just authentically loves her. If Nicholas’ charm and awareness weren’t enough to make him the preferable Dr. Pepper to the predictable Coke of the good guys, now he’s a guy with a sincere interest in one of the show’s heroines. Because who knows what’s holding up Joe? Barnabas wasn’t in love with her; he was in love with someone who just looked like her. True, we don’t see how Joe responded to her when he and Maggie first met. We don’t see Joe infatuated. What we see is a Joe (yes, traumatized, but still….) who is complacent but arguably noncommittal. Contrasted with a Nicholas, motivated for the right reasons, it makes Joe’s upcoming fate even sadder. And Maggie’s affection for Joe, even more so, because we know where it’s headed.

As for Nicholas? Now more than ever, it’s hard to root against him. And maybe we don’t. We just root against his plans. Nicholas is a man who wants naughty naughty things. But Maggie’s not one of them.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 15, 1968.
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