Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Dark Shadows Daybook: May 19


Taped on this day in 1969: Episode761

When Edward gains proof of the evil of the supernatural, will he become Collinsport’s last, best hope for victory? Edward Collins: Louis Edmonds. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Barnabas rescues the children by teleporting in, which causes the flames to die out. Edward, now having realized that Laura was a creature of the supernatural, vows to protect Collinwood from the occult. He’d better hurry, because Quentin and Evan have a Satan to summon!

With Laura dead, and that part of the series’ auto-remake out of the way, Mission: 1897 really flies off into new territory. Quentin’s transformation has begun. (So has Magda’s.) It’s a sobering transformation, so at least they keep him good and sauced, which is always entertaining. But equally entertaining and surprisingly mature is the evolution that goes largely unnoticed: Edward, played with comic exaggeration and human texture by the reliably underestimated Louis Edmonds. And he evolves in more ways than one. He’s one of my favorite characters in the series, the very picture of a Victorian straight-man. But let’s not limit him to that. In just this episode alone, he heals and matures in surprising ways and galvanizes into something beautifully ludicrous and completely understandable...

Edward Collins -- Monster Hunter.

It’s the evolution of Joshua, who lived for denial, and a rebuke toward Roger, who lived for willful ignorance. In between, with all of the insanity endured for a hundred years, you’d think that one Collins would grow a little backbone, believe what’s clearly going on, and grab the stake & hammer. In Edward, they do. And for a post-Dickensian cartoon, Edward is a surprisingly modern man. He’s a single father, now for reals, and his warmth toward his children is wholly authentic and heartwarming. Quentin, it seems, never robbed him of a wife because he never really had one. With that new perspective, of course, he must mend the family. Now that Judith has the wealth and Trask is amassing the power, all of the external sources of Edward’s anticipated identity vanished in months. What’s left but to be a genuine mensh? His relationships are all he has, and he’s no longer the forbidding iceberg. He’s Roger and Liz’s grandpa-in-waiting.

More than that, all of the forces he once saw as corrupting to that sense of John Harvey Kellogg propriety are, well, not that important. He’s now the Lovecraft hero who decides to strike back. That journey will take him to Barnabas. I think he has it in for Barnabas because Barnabas shames him by implication. He’s the guy who didn’t settle down. But he’s disciplined, unlike Quentin, concerned for others, unlike Carl, and warm, unlike Edward. He even macks on the KLS character with appropriately hygienic restraint. Barnabas is living the Edwardian bachelor dream, then proceeds to go full-on superhero. Did Edward save his kids? No, Barnabas did. Edward will have to kill Barnabas to become him. The fact that he’s a vampire is the berries in the sloe gin. This is secretly the story of Edward Collins becoming the best of the 20th century as Quentin retreats from being the worst of it.

And there’s the mustache, too.

This episode hit the airwaves on May 26, 1969

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