Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Dark Shadows Daybook: January 7


Taped on this date in 1971: Episode 1190

When Quentin escapes from jail, will he and Daphne tie the knot before Gabriel ties her down forever? Daphne: Kate Jackson. (Repeat. 30 min.)

Gabriel’s attempt to kidnap Daphne is ineffectual, and the lass escapes. Meanwhile, Joanna stumbles upon Gabriel and Melanie in PT as she searches for Daphne. Nonetheless, Gabriel seizes Daphne from the shadows.

Of course, the 1840 storyline is contrived. Of course. It’s not the character study of 1795 nor the lusty, sprawling bacchanal of pure imagination of 1897. True to its industrial revolution-era setting, it’s a piece of clockwork, cleverly designed to include the apotheosis of Barnabas Collins among dozens of other storylines. The network of interlocking agendas becomes deeply impressive, three steps back, and yet I cannot accuse it of seeming contrived. It simply feels like the owner of the hand of destiny is showing his receipt and telling us all where we can get one. Quentin is out of the way for Trask and Gerard, leading to a witch trial where Barnabas takes up rhetorical arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, winds up with Angelique shot.

Which has its own clockwork beauty of dark and ironic inevitability.

Elements of 1190 are so emotionally mature that I wonder if the show is still Dark Shadows. Joanna Mills quickly concludes that Quentin just is not that into her, and she frees him. Good for you. In this case, she defies the jealous lover stereotype, and for all of her blandness, gets the Victoria Winters Award for intrepid house snooping, while Daphne is doing the same thing in hidden corridors that seem designed to store old paintings on the walls. Staying steady among the rampant Dutch angles (“Boff!” “Pow!” “Insinuate!”), Joanna even has a moment to stop by the ultimate secret passage, the Parallel Time room, where Christopher Pennock and Nancy Barrett star in the costume version of The Lost Weekend. The portrait of an alcoholic is convincing, and it will need to be. 1841PT is easily understandable as the show’s downfall when you consider that it gave them, realistically, nothing connected to the prior four years of world building. Yes, running dry on ideas, we’ve heard it. Running even drier on Frid-as-Barnabas? Clearly. It’s simply a shame that no one thought to extend a tendril of continuity between the universes again. Needn’t even be a big gun.

When the PT cutaway happened today, I found challenge in mustering extreme enthusiasm, even though the final result (1841PYT) is a gem of a storyline. The highlight of the episode, reliably, is Christopher Pennock, the James Cagney of the DS ensemble. Here, he plays two Gabriels, and neither gent is a prize… but in totally different ways, implosive vs. explosive. The difference is arrestingly subtle, down to movement (no, not the legs) and tempo-rhythm. This is the case where relentless training really pays off.

Meanwhile, away from the wistfully sad portrait of a charming alcoholic’s mastery of rationalization, the other Gabriel seems to appear in this episode as sponsored by Ronan Farrow’s most paranoid suspicions. Pantingly lustful, even a priapic Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy would try spiking Gabriel’s Ovaltine with saltpeter. And yet, there is such a goofy quality to Gabriel’s authentic melodrama — straight out of Love Rides the Rails, complete mit tied-up damsel — that any sense of transgressive violation just seems like… it ain’t gonna happen. He eventually rejects Daphne’s come-on in a disappointing burst of common sense. He makes up for it, however, by showing off his counterfeit good-guy badge while commiserating with Joanna. It’s an orgy of irrelevance. At this point, they’re both short timers for totally different reasons. But so are we all in the world of Dark Shadows. However, the show is a möbius strip, and the twist is coming up — some time after 1841PT and before the next episode, #1, in Main Time, so far behind us that it’s the next stop on the horizon.

This episode hit the airwaves Jan. 15, 1971.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...