Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: SEPTEMBER 25


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 857

Edward suspects nothing unusual when Quentin and Petofi enter each other's bodies, but will a bewildered prostitue survivie coming between them? Petofi: David Selby. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Petofi, having switched bodies with Quentin, immediately ingratiates himself with Edward in the fight against Trask. Edward decides to defeat Trask by marrying Kitty. So, um, Edward, is defeating Trask the only reason you’re getting married? Huh. Well, okay. Petofi, in Quentin drag, uses a dockside sex worker as his Chuck Yeager, to see if the I Ching works. Unfortunately, she gets the wrong hexagram and dissolves into a skeleton.

Let’s talk terror. Today, it’s easy to look at one of the early episodes featuring Barnabas maybe-kinda-sorta thinking about biting someone... before deciding not to... and say, “What was the big deal? Why were parents so worried?”

Because they were. Swaths of the south banned the show altogether. Yeah, well, 857, for all of its Halloween store goofiness, ends with such sincere shrieking and flesh-rending that I get it. The I Ching doesn’t just send ‘em into the Cornfield, it shows us what happens when they get there. It’s an ending that is wildly campy and, once you stop judging it too harshly, very disturbing. The I Ching’s been our pal. We were like brothers. Best friends at the academy. Why would it treat us this way? What kind of a time bomb have we been juggling?

David Selby is having a ball and will continue to do so in this storyline. Once seen as a hero, handsome men rarely get to play the villains. It just goes to show you that limiting typecasting negatively impacts everyone in casting. Selby has a rare chance to dodge this bullet when playing Petofi, and employs every bit of the theatrical flourish as did Thayer David. For his part,  David plays a warm and vulnerable sympathy which is instantly winning. Ben Stokes has it, but with a redneck’s bluntness and the confidence of a brute. Here’s the turtle is out of the shell, and that makes Quentin’s bravery in the confrontational moments all the more amazing.

On this day in 1969, “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR was in the Top 5 in the UK and “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies was a chart topper here. Meanwhile, down the hall in Wales, Catherine Zeta-Jones was born.

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